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HDMI ARC vs Optical – Which is Better?

For some people, getting audio from their TV to external speakers might be a difficult chore. There may be just one sort of audio connection accessible to you, or there may be several, depending on the model of TV and external speakers you own. It’s possible that your TV supports both digital optical audio and HDMI ARC, both of which are excellent choices. Which is better, then? Digital optical audio or HDMI ARC?

A better choice is HDMI ARC. In contrast to Digital Optical, which only supports Dolby Digital and up to 5.1 channels of uncompressed audio, it supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, and up to 7.1 channels. Additionally, HDMI ARC capabilities include CEC, which lets your TV remote control the volume of an attached soundbar or A/V receiver.

You might be unable to decide which option is better for you because your television might support both HDMI ARC and digital optical audio. Numerous factors need to be taken into account, including cable length, quality, available connections, and the cables you already have. You’ve come to the right site if you want to learn more about audio quality, functionality, and how digital optical and HDMI ARC compare.

HDMI ARC and Optical Basics

Optical wires and HDMI ARC serve the same function. Both of these transfer multi-channel audio between two different devices. Good news thus far, The absence of video transmission over an optical cable is the only notable functional difference. However, since you already have video on your HD display, this shouldn’t be a problem.

The composition of their materials is the primary distinction between HDMI and optical. Copper, a common material for electronic connections, is the main component of HDMI cables. Copper is inexpensive, simple to produce, and has long been used in industry. It is vulnerable to electromagnetic interference, which is a drawback. On the other side, glass fiber optic strands are used to construct optical cables. Making these is rather pricey. They do not, however, use an electrical current to deliver the signal; they use light instead. They become immune to outside intervention as a result.

In spite of the fact that we shouldn’t have to, make sure your equipment is compatible. For instance, some soundbars are incompatible with HDMI sound. You must run an optical connection directly from your source if your TV doesn’t support optical sound. Although it could appear to be a good solution, this is not the case. The audio and the video may not be in time since the signals are moving through different routes. To put it another way, check sure your TV is compatible with the soundbar or A/V receiver before you buy it.

Audio Quality

The majority of home entertainment systems will work with optical cables. They offer up to 5.1 channels of surround sound. That works with any soundbar. What if you have a 7.1-channel surround sound system and are an audiophile? An optical cable won’t be sufficient in that situation. Furthermore, TrueHD, DTS HD, and Dolby Digital Plus are not even supported by optical cables. That’s a significant restriction for a more sophisticated soundbar, let alone a whole audio system.

While optical lines are practically impervious to interference, the issue is that they have a finite amount of bandwidth. You’re going to need an HDMI ARC connection to get the most of your powerful stereo system. Almost any sound format is supported by HDMI ARC. Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD, and DTS HD are all supported. By doing this, you can get the highest quality from your Blu-Ray discs or a contemporary game system.

7.1-channel surround sound is the main feature that HDMI ARC is not capable of supporting. You’ll need an additional update for that. The “e” in HDMI eARC stands for “enhanced,” and it supports 7.1-channel surround sound. Additionally, it offers much more bandwidth. Even pricey new televisions typically produce compressed sound that is of poorer quality than the input. Whether or whether you use HDMI ARC, this may have an impact on your sound quality. Ethernet technology is used by HDMI eARC to output data at the same quality as the input. In other words, you won’t experience delay or jury-rigging while enjoying rich, uncompressed audio. eARC technology is currently supported by a small number of devices. If you decide to take this path, carefully review your hardware specifications before making a purchase.

Video Quality

Video quality should still be mentioned even though it only relates to HDMI cables. The explanation for this is because not all HDMI cables are created equal. An HDMI 2.0 cable will work if you require 4K video. You are restricted to 60 frames per second, though. An HDMI 2.1 cable, on the other hand, will deliver 120 frames per second in 4K. Even 8K footage may be viewed at 60 frames per second! Most VR systems depend on this. In addition, there is a clear side argument to be made about video. You need more wires since an optical cable is incompatible with video. A cheap HDMI cable with an optical cable may end up costing more than a high-quality HDMI ARC cable.

When is HDMI ARC better than Optical?

When using an A/V controller or soundbar, HDMI ARC cables work best. Simply simply, the audio quality will be better than it would be with an optical cable. This makes HDMI ARC a clear preference on its own. Additionally, HDMI ARC supports CEC technology. This topic hasn’t been discussed extensively. You may use the same remote control for all of your HDMI ARC-connected devices thanks to CEC. With that in mind, a regular HDMI connection would be a better choice if you’re not using external speakers.

When is Optical better than HDMI ARC?

When there are compatibility problems, optical is the best option. For instance, you might have an outdated A/V receiver or soundbar that is HDMI ARC incompatible. If so, optical might be your only option. Additionally, optical is a superior option for lengthy runs. It’s unquestionably a superior choice if you’re wiring an audio system for your entire home. Finally, if you have a lot of electromagnetic interference, an optical cable is advised. Naturally, if that’s the case, you should probably inspect your apparatus to determine the source of the interference.